After being involved with marketing research projects for over a decade, I have seen my fair share of blunders made by businesses, entrepreneurs and government organizations when conducting market research studies,resulting in their poor satisfaction from market research. I have listed these slipups in order in which they need to be addressed while commissioning any new market research study. I hope this list proves helpful to you in maintaining your faith in market research process.
1. Not clearly defining business and research objectives–This is the most obvious blunder which is often given least attention. Like in computer science we say garbage in, garbage out (GIGO), similarly if you fail to define your business problems which you wish to solve and research objectives you wish to achieve via market research it’s not going to produce meaningful results.
To get this right you need to discuss and brainstorm with all stakeholders who are going to get benefitted when this business problem is solved. Once you are clear what you wish to achieve out of a market research study it can be converted into research objectives by your market research agency much effectively.
2. Trying to conduct a wider market research study with low depth –Many organizations while planning for market research study take inputs from all departments involved. This often results in preparing a request for proposal (RFP) for market research study which tries to find answers of too many questions in single study.
To cut corners and keep such projects under budget you may need to tone down the depth of the study e.g. reducing sample size for interviews, conducting less focus groups, focusing of less number of regions and markets etc. This results in a market research study offering too little actionable information to solve any of the business problems covered in the study.
3.Poor budget allocation– Market research studies areexpensive to conduct. Expecting too much from a low budget study is a sure shot way to fail most of the time. A lot of thought needs to be given while finalizing the budget for a market research study. Like, how much needs to be spent during exploratory phase and descriptive phase of the market research.
Lowering your budget might not attract good market research firms to respond to your RFP, resulting in sub-optimal outcome of the study.On the other hand, assigning large budget may result in poor returns from the research and may even limit number of future market research studies which can be conducted. Thus, you need to find a balance.
4.Relying too much on in-house researchteams– In-house research teams are situated too close to end-users, and thus are unlikely to produce fully transparent and objective market research studies. They also are also affected by organization politics and most of the time end up supporting the point of view (POV) of their superiors and end users. Also, in-house teams tend to have myopic view of their industry as they are not always exposed to external variables.
An external market research agency has a far better chance to provide objective suggestions without any bias when it comes to research design, data collection, analysis and other research suggestions
5.Thinking about Market Research as one-time activity rather than a continuous process - Market research is an ongoing process and usually one study leads to another study and new questions arise where one is answered. Thinking that I have conducted one study and it’s good enough for my organization is not the right way to approach market research.
The goal of market research is to reduce risk of decision making by providing actionable information in timely manner. Thus, committing to ongoing marketing research is a best strategy as this will keep providing answers, related to your product, services and markets as they evolve over time. Thus, helping you to maintain competitive edge in your industry.
6.Relying on one set of data –Do not rely on single set of data no matter from where you have sourced it. This is especially true when you are collecting secondary research data. Let’s consider a scenario where you are trying to assess market conditions, for your product and/or services in Australia, while doing desk research. You purchase a syndicated research report from one market research publisher on this topic and may think that I have got all the data I need. It is advisable that rather than relying too much on data provided by a single research report, you should procure multiple reports (ideally 4-5 reports) from different publishers. This will help you to compare the data offered by each publisher.
7.Relying too much on free internet informationand/or online research tools– Whether to build questionnaires, define target audience or conducting desk research during exploratory research phase replying too much on information collected from search engines or online free websites needs to be taken with a pinch of salt. The data needs to be cross checked with multiple authentic sources as mentioned in point # 6.
Unlike concrete suggestions made by a dedicated market research study, free information available on internet may not help you to take right decisions while solving your specific business problem
With the explosion of online surveys, panel discussion, focus groups etc.you may be tempted to use them thinking it can save you a lot of time and money (as they advertise). Most of the online survey tools are filled with professional respondents, who know how to get past survey screening questions. Also finding niche audience (like high net worth individuals (HNIs)) online to respond to your survey is near impossible.